The Inspired Room

Refining Your Home for Authentic Living™

The Inspired Room has MOVED! August 27, 2008

Filed under: The Inspired Room — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 12:19 pm


Friends! I am so happy you are here! But, if you got here through, I have officially MOVED! The Inspired Room has a new address. UPDATE: Actually I moved A YEAR AGO, so if you are still finding me this way, here is my NEW ADDRESS

You are invited to come visit me at my NEW BLOG HOME! Please, oh please? I would love to see you.

I’m getting all settled in and will be trying to get my new blog all pretty. Moving is a messy business so thanks for your patience.

CLICK HERE to go to my new address and let’s get caught up!

Be sure to sign up to receive my posts via a feed or email, so we never get separated again!

MUAH! See you there!


Solitude: A Daily Ritual July 23, 2008

Filed under: Authentic Living,Decorating Inspiration — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

In solitude we give passionate attention to our lives,
to our memories, to the details around us.

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

How are you all doing with balanced living? We haven’t talked about that much lately, probably because I’ve been too busy to be balanced! But in the quiet of the evening last night, I thought again about my need for balancing busyness with solitude. Especially in the busiest seasons of life, we need to find time for solitude. It is so important to our well being! But how? How do we find that time when life swirls around us and expectations abound? Here are a few thoughts to stir our thinking:

  • Make the time for solitude and let some things fall through the cracks.
  • Try doing one less blog post per week or read a few less blogs in busy seasons. Blog world will still spin without our constant communication and participation. Your true friends will be there when you return.
  • Save up your emails and deal with them all in one sitting to avoid the constant interruptions.
  • Get up one half hour earlier to enjoy the quiet of the morning.
  • Turn off your phone and computer earlier in the evening. The world can wait until tomorrow.
  • If you have children at home, shut the door to your bedroom or bathroom for a short time each day or evening (if your husband is home or your kids are old enough to be alone!) and tell the children mommy is in quiet time.
  • Set appointments with yourself to do something different each week with some quiet time. Wander through an art museum, read a book at a new coffee shop, walk through a botanical garden, listen to music and daydream.
  • Create a special place for solitude. A clean and inviting bedroom can be a private sanctuary. Put on fresh sheets, pull open a window and a set a bouquet by your bedside.
  • Create rituals for your private time and look forward to those experiences. Light candles, journal your thoughts in pretty notebooks, meditate on gratitude, pray.
  • Learn to say no without excuses.
  • Be selective in how you spend your day, making sure to guard your private time.
  • Give yourself permission to live life at a different pace than others around you.
  • Make ordinary moments more special. A morning cup of coffee can be a memorable daily ritual if we slow down enough to savor it in solitude.
  • Be yourself and live authentically. Trying to impress is a sure fire way to be unbalanced in life.
  • Let go of the guilt for things you can’t get to and things you cannot control.

I’m challenging myself to continue to practice solitude every day in some form or another, even through this busy season (my daughter’s wedding)! Feel free to join in any way you can! I promise, it will be life changing if you are not in the habit of it!

Photo: This Old House, Eric Piesecki. I love that wall color!

Related posts by The Inspired Room:

Disconnect Challenge

Balanced Living in 2008

Grace Notes: Morning Solitude

Grace Notes: Alexandra Stoddard



Blissfully {un} Domestic June 12, 2008

Filed under: Authentic Living,Domesticity — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 1:00 am


Dirty sock on floor, dust filled registers, broken doorstop, yucky ripped wallpaper = Blissfully Domestic Diva

“Just call me a Blissfully Domestic Diva!”

Uproarious laughter went up in my house when I announced this to my family, and I fully expect that you are stifling your giggles if not actually falling on the floor in hysteria with this announcement. Or perhaps rolling your eyes. You know me and have seen it all. You know my kids wear undies on their heads.

You all know I don’t like to cook, I don’t sew, I throw Costco dinner parties, I’m not that crafty (remember, I think throwing vegetables in a wreath on a table constitutes a craft), and my house looked like this the day before Thanksgiving. And you know I had a dead rat in the basement.

And, I’ll admit I cheated by using ready made sugar cookies at Christmas time.

You know about the horrific Unfortunate Party Incident in my home involving this sweet innocent looking pup.

You remember the day there was a little domestic faux pas involving hand dishwashing soap. Oops!

And, you know the slate is coming off of my patio and I won’t be fixing it any time soon.

But, in spite of (because of?) my obvious domestic foibles and limitations, I’m honored to announce that I will be writing for the awesome online magazine Blissfully Domestic. Blissfully Domestic will be going through some changes at the end of this month so stay tuned for the new format, it all sounds very exciting!

I am not sure exactly when my first article will be up, but I’ll let you know so you can all RUSH OVER (just kidding).

I hope that you will pop on over to Blissfully Domestic and see all the informative and helpful articles that are posted each day by other authors! And, do me a favor? Comment on my posts if you see them when you are over there, even if you yawn because my post looks so familiar? I will do new ones and change them up, but just pretend you love every word and idea I share so I don’t look like a total dork? Thanks for boosting my self-esteem, you are always the best friends ever

Now, in honor of our blissful domesticity and your kindness to me, I offer you this magazine cover.

My little gift to you.

The editor of Christian Women Online made this for the debut of my column there last year and it still suits me today. It is my life in a magazine cover. You may have this little button because I know you are a kindred spirit, you too try to live authentically and are not afraid to admit your life isn’t always magazine cover ready either (even though we try — you can’t blame us for trying to make things pretty).

I think if you paste this code on your blog,

it will allow you to put a little button in your sidebar:

<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="" width="175" height="230" /></a>

Thanks for letting me be me. I love beautiful things and beautiful homes but the real beauty comes from just living. You all GET THAT! And that is what this blog and my writing is all about. Thanks for letting me ramble on day in and day out!

Last, but not least, here are the most fabulous folks
who have passed an award (or a tag!) on to me recently
…thank you each and every one! It means a lot to me.
I hope I haven’t missed someone…

Gracious Southern Living

The House That A-M Built

Forever and Ever House

Just a girl

La Vie Est Belle

A Haven for Vee

Nesting Intincts

Love Conquers All

Dandelions and Daydreams

Neutral Dwelling

Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers

Don’t forget to pick up your button as my award to everyone reading today.


Sweet Escape: Oh to be Bill Gates June 6, 2008

Filed under: Authentic Living,Sweet Escape — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 7:08 pm

Do you think Bill Gates’ kids ever say, “I’m BOORREDD!”?

What if we had money like Bill Gates? I shudder to imagine what life might be like. Would it be good or would we get bored even with the excess?

It is Friday night and I’m off to find something for my son to do because he doesn’t have a rocket in his backyard. In fact, we have nothing but a debris filled crumbling old patio, a moss covered rock wall, empty planters and a patio table that really needs to be cleaned before summer officially begins…

What? You want to see my patio? You want a good laugh on a Friday night? Ok. I’ll show you. It has a lot of potential, if you can see past the rubble. But I have no immediate plans to do anything more than throw some grass seed out in the dirt. Maybe.

Above you can see the patio. The slate is coming off. Lovely. When we moved in there was more slate, but every summer we pick up maybe 25 new loose stones and this is what we are left with. A unique cement patio.

Here you can see my son eating his Happy Meal but if you look behind him, you can see my secret shame (as my son would say). Really, I don’t care. So I have weeds and no lawn. Now you all know the truth. Good thing people do hire me to work on their outdoor rooms (I’ll show you one in progress next week!), otherwise you’d all wonder about me and what kind of business I must have. Actually, maybe no one will ever hire me again now that I’ve revealed our secret garden. It is risky having a blog, but I’m all about full disclosure.

If you want to know the real truth about why our backyard is in dire need of some updating and after four years of living in this house it is not beautifully landscaped…you can check out my story at CWO this month. Here is a sneak preview:

In our home, the month of June brings visions of outdoor family fun. Through the years our kids would high five each other on the last day of school as we anticipated the lazy days of summer ahead. Sometime around Father’s Day my husband would put on his manly apron and fire up the backyard barbecue. The burgers would start flying and the pink lemonade would begin flowing through our multi-colored straws. Life was good. At least that is how summer started out.

We really did dream of lazy summer days, but I have to confess many of our summers turned into what we not so affectionately called “project vacations.” In other words, we did yard work.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE! And while you are there, check out my friend “reluctant entertainer” Sandy’s article! She’ll be there all summer!



photos: Melissa Michaels

HAPPY WEEKEND TO YOU ALL! I hope you have big plans for fun, relaxation and enjoying life!


Living An Authentic Life: My Journey May 26, 2008

Filed under: Authentic Living — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 4:37 pm

Decorative Country Living

As most of you know, I’m a believer in what I call “Authentic Living.” This is a topic that really speaks to me because it affects so much of our life either positively or negatively. I’ve learned this through experience, so I thought I’d share a bit more of my journey of discovery. By my loose definition, authentic living is living a life that works for you. It is finding satisfaction, contentment and fulfillment in the present. And, perhaps more importantly, it is a life where we are useful to people around us because we are able to give of ourselves in the way we want to. It can be a life filled with dreams, hard work and determination, but at its foundation is authenticity to both who we are and what is appropriate for us at any given point in life. It is like a compass, it helps us to determine if we are spending our time and money appropriately. It is living well within our means not only financially, but emotionally, physically, time-wise, and in other ways as well.

Learning to live authentically has been a lifelong process for me, as I think it is for most people. What was “authentic” while growing up in our parents’ house is different for what we think is authentic in our 20s or 30s. And often times in those early adulthood years, we don’t know what is authentic for us. We might think we do, and some might even have a firm grasp on who they are, but for most of us, we are “just learning the ropes” of who we really are, separate from our parents. We are still trying out different hats, different paths and really learning who we are and what works for us. With each life change (careers, marriage, children, moving, empty nests), we have to adjust our way of living life.

Country Homes & Interiors 2005

As I find myself in my 40s, I feel that I am poised now to be living my most authentic life, because I have had more experience with what works for me and what doesn’t. While authenticity is something I always believed in, it has taken time, trial and error to really grab a hold of what it means to me and how I live that out. That is not to say I have it all figured out, I’m still learning and adjusting. I’m still on the journey of discovery and growth.

When I was a young wife, I thought my authentic self was destined to live in some sort of dreamy environment. You know, if I worked hard enough at it I could have the spotlessly clean house, cute cherub children, the perfectly decorated home. It seemed natural for me, as I had grown up in a few homes that were close to most people’s definition of perfection. I had dreamed of my perfect fairytale life as a wife and mom ever since I was little. That was all I knew and it seemed like a realistic option! But as my husband and I carved our own way in life, it became clear to me that life was different in my new family than it was in my original one. Not better or worse, just different. I had some adjusting to do.

House Beautiful

The difficulty I ran into with the perfection route was something always suffered when I tried to achieve it. Contrary to my original assessment of what life as an adult would be like, I was not in a position to do it all. And usually what suffered were things I held dear. I lacked the time and/or money for my expectations and that led to feelings of discontent and frustration. It took awhile for me to realize that I was running ahead full steam in a direction that I thought was important, when really it wasn’t what I valued the most or was capable of achieving. My priorities confused me and left me wondering if that was how life was supposed to feel.

So, in the process of refining how I live, I had to reconcile the parts of me that loved a beautiful environment and the parts of me that couldn’t keep that up! I wanted to live a “beautiful life” and it was important to me to do so for many reasons, but I didn’t always have the money or the time to do things the way I wanted to. I wanted to be true to who I was, but I didn’t know how.

House Beautiful

As time has marched on, I have had to redefine for myself what a beautiful life looked like. Again, this process was a part of learning to live authentically. My husband and I moved quite a bit in our married years, I think each time we moved we were seeking more authenticity. A bigger house, a smaller house, a different neighborhood, digging out of a rough financial patch. While we were able to pay off debts, earn equity in our homes, accommodate career changes and build up our assets, the moving took a toll on our life. We kept working hard on our houses only to move and have to start over. We’d get our life organized in one house, and then had to re-do it the next. We’d fully landscape one backyard and move to a home that needed the same overhaul. It began to feel like we were on a treadmill and never were arriving at our destination.

It was an exhausting exercise in trying to find authenticity. Looking back, I thought if I got everything arranged in life just so, the right house, the right career, the right yard, the right decorating and the right size of house, authenticity and contentment would fall into place. True, if where you are at in life is completely inappropriate for you (your house is way too expensive for your income, for example), then switching homes might be a good idea. But still, many times in life when I made a decision to move or re-do something, my focus might have been off. I would solve one or two problems and create a half dozen more.

House Beautiful

What I have learned for myself is that the goal is not always to make everything perfect around me, but to LIVE fully, to the best of my ability, wherever I am. It is being content to balance my life with what God gives me! I have had to change my focus and perception of how I look at life. Yes, sometimes that means moving to a new house, remodeling or getting a new job in order to live more fully. But sometimes that means projects remain undone for years at a time (my backyard, for instance, GASP!) so I can redirect my time and resources to something else that is more important to me. Sometimes living authentically means I give my kids the master bedroom for a teen hangout while my husband and I use a regular bedroom. Other times, like now, it means I take that master bedroom back and use it as a retreat for my husband and me as we are both in need of time away from the world. Sometimes living authentically means I work harder than I want to and sometimes it means I work less. Sometimes it means I start a business, sometimes I quit one. Sometimes it means I drive a new car and sometimes it means I am stuck for years on end driving a mini-van.

Ideal Home via House to Home

Circumstances will ebb and flow, but now that I am fully embracing authentic living, my intent remains the same in spite of my circumstances or whims. Authentic living isn’t necessarily being frugal in every way or living simply, as some people do, it is living on purpose and with purpose according to what I have been given. I have to make sacrifices in order to fully live with contentment in the moments I have. I can’t chase down authenticity or find it somewhere else, nor can I have every duck in a row at all times. Authenticity looks different at my house than it might look at your house. You can’t necessarily spot someone who is living authentically just because of the car they drive, the kind of house they live in, the things they have, or the place they buy their groceries.

Authenticity is a series of personal decisions I make every day. While I sometimes think it would be great to go back in time and make life a “do over” I’m content where I am today. Life isn’t perfect, struggles still loom over us and some uncertainty of our future remains. But I’m happy to just fully live in the moments I’m given.

So, in a nutshell, that is my journey towards authentic living.


Stay tuned for an upcoming related post:
Creative Concealment (my solution to achieving a beautiful home and still having money and time leftover for living)

Related posts:

Balanced Living in 2008


Outdoor Rooms: Three Perfect Rooms May 13, 2008

Filed under: Authentic Living,Gardens & Outdoor Rooms — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 1:00 am




These rooms might be pretty close to perfection. But while they are pretty to look at, for most of us our objective in decorating indoor or outdoor rooms should not be perfection. The point in creating beautiful rooms is to actually ENJOY them. If we obsess too much about the details or have to spend time or money beyond our means in order to create them, we miss out on so much! We may never get around to LIVING in these rooms — how sad that would be (I’ve been guilty of that myself, I know of what I speak!)! Experiencing the fun of life in these spaces is the point. Perfection is not. We may not have a fancy table, an enormous rock fireplace, or matching lounge chairs. But, we can enjoy our humble rooms just the same or even more as the fancy ones!

Make living the life you want within your reach right now, not something that is always saved for “someday!”

Budget friendly ideas:

  • Give an old picnic table a new coat of paint (or let it stay weathered and worn!).
  • Go ahead, bring indoor furniture outside to enjoy on a nice day! Why not? No need to buy expensive outdoor furniture if it is not within your budget.
  • Shop at thrift stores or garage sales for items you can re-purpose in your garden or patio.
  • Build a fire pit or bring candles & lanterns outside to create the ambience of flames on a cool night
  • Don’t have a green thumb? Keep your landscaping simple. Use containers for easy to grow plants.
  • Involve the whole family in planting a garden! You’ll save on your grocery bill and have fun in the process.
  • Use gravel to finish off spaces, instead of expensive stone patio and walkways (the crunch of a gravel walk is so charming!)
  • Focus as much or more attention on creating memories with your family outdoors this summer than you do on how to decorate or design your space. Pour your creativity into the experiences: plan a BBQ, have a family camping night, roast marshmallows, read together outside, have breakfast on the patio, drag your TV outside and host a movie night for the neighbors.
  • Don’t have a backyard or the means or energy to create a pretty one right now? Head to the park! I am writing about this very situation for my article for CWO in June (oh, and speaking of which, don’t forget to visit CWO this month for my article on The Art of Memory Making as well as articles by other women who will uplift and inspire you in everyday living).

House Beautiful